The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party is pursuing more changes in municipalities run by its mayors. Melih Gökçek, the larger-than-life mayor of capital Ankara, announced late Tuesday that he would submit his resignation on Saturday. Media outlets reported yesterday that Ahmet Edip Uğur, the mayor of the western province of Balıkesir, would step down on Monday.
The mayors of Istanbul, Niğde, Düzce and Bursa have resigned so far since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said there was "metal fatigue" within the AK Party and took up the task of rejuvenating it. Gökçek will be the fifth mayor from the AK Party to resign from his post.
Erdoğan said in a recent interview that he was expecting three mayors to submit their resignations. Recep Altepe of Bursa resigned on Monday.
Not long after Gökçek's announcement, Erdoğan also sent off series of tweets in which he stressed his confidence in Turkey's youth, a theme he has recently reiterated in moves to refresh the AK Party ranks.
"In due course, our young people will take over the significant duties of this nation," he posted on his Twitter account.
What matters is "the love of serving [the nation]," not the love of one's post/title, Erdoğan added.
Gökçek met Erdoğan earlier the same day in a previously unannounced meeting.
Gökçek took office on March 27, 1994, and has served as mayor ever since. He was elected mayor of Ankara in the 1994 local elections, in which Erdoğan was first elected mayor of Istanbul. Gökçek is known for his penchant for Twitter where he frequently tweets about everything from municipal work to conspiracy theories. Although he is credited with redevelopment of the capital, he has also been criticized for unsightly statues of robots and dinosaurs erected across the city to promote a new theme park.
News network A Haber reported that Balıkesir Mayor Uğur would resign on Monday. Uğur has long been quiet on the issue, although his name was on the list of mayors expected to resign for a long time. The 67-year-old mayor was among the founders of the AK Party's Balıkesir branch and a lawmaker before he was elected mayor in 2014.